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This a seafarers medical fitness certificate which must be renewed every two years. You must have a valid certificate work at sea. A list of approved doctors, both in the UK and overseas, can be found on the MCA website.


There are five basic training modules that every person working at sea is required to complete before they can be employed on a UK-registered vessel. This is a mandatory safety requirement and more advanced versions of these modules will have to be completed as your career progresses.

  • Personal Survival Techniques
  • Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities
  • Elementary First Aid
  • Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting
  • Proficiency in Security Awareness

More information about the courses


Our students enjoy well above industry standard exam pass rates; our aim is to maintain and improve upon this level of achievement.


They are only available when booking a course.


We are an ELCAS approved training provider. If you have ELCAS funding available to you, you can use it to pay for your training.  All you need to do is let us know that you will be accessing your ELCAS funding, and provide us with the relevant forms to complete on your behalf when making a booking with us.


Candidates undertaking an MCA written exam conducted by SQA/IAMI who have been diagnosed as dyslexic by either an educational psychologist or a specialist dyslexia teacher may be allowed an extra 15 minutes for each hour of normal examination time. Please note that the request for the extra time must be made at least two weeks prior to the exam date and must be accompanied by the relevant paperwork.

The MCA will not allow the use of readers, scribes or computers; however, other aides such as tinted film etc are permitted. If you have been assessed, and an increased exam time has been agreed, it will remain valid for all future exams, until the tenth anniversary of the assessors report.

MIN 435 explains the MCA dyslexia policy in detail.


The MCA works with the following definitions:

  • Onboard Yacht Service is time spent on yachts irrespective of the vessel activity
  • Actual Sea Service is time spent at sea which may include time at anchor or river and canal transits associated with the passage
  • Stand-by Service is time moored whilst fully victualled, fuelled and stored ready to proceed safely to sea eg, awaiting the owner to arrive or a charter to commence
  • Yard Service is time when standing by a build, refit or repair
  • Sea Service includes a combination of Actual Sea Service, Standby Service and or Yard Service.



Ideally any service is evidenced in the form of a Discharge Book. If you haven’t got one, you can apply for a Discharge Book using the MCA form MSF4509.

Alternatively, yacht personnel can use a form called Yacht Certificate of Discharge which can be found in Annex F of MSN 1858.

Official discharge forms can also be found in Yacht Training Record Books (TRB) (Section 10, page 17). A Yacht TRB can be downloaded from the MCA's website.

Another way is using the PYA’s Service Record Book or Nautilus' Service Record Book.


You will need 36 months' on board yacht service on a vessel of any size, including a minimum of 365 days sea service on a yacht over 15 metres loadline length, where the sea service is minimum of 250 days Actual Sea Service, and the balance of 115 days any combination of the following:

  • Stand-by service to a maximum of 14 consecutive days in one period regardless of any further time spent standing-by. Further periods may be counted only when the vessel returns after proceeding to sea on passage
  • Yard service to a maximum of 90 days continuously or in separate periods
  • Further actual sea service.

You must also have completed the MCA approved Training Record Book (note: this is not required if the candidate can provide evidence of 36 months' sea service in vessels of at least 24 metres in load line length).

See also MSN 1858.


In order to obtain your OOW Unlimited through the HNC Exam Route for Experienced Seafarers you will need either 36 months' sea service on a merchant ship of at least 24 metres in length of not less than 80GT, or 36 months' sea service on a yacht over 24 metres.

The 36 months' sea service on a yacht will follow the service definitions in  MSN 1858 (M+F):

Sea Service = Actual Sea Service + Standby Service (max 14 days between voyages) + Yard Service (max 90 days in total).

You will need a total combined figure of 1,080 days. There can be multiple periods of stand-by service as along as the yacht proceeded to sea in between. 

At least six months of the qualifying sea service must have been performed within the five years preceding the application for a Notice of Eligibility (NoE).

Make sure you apply using MSF 4274 but submit Sea Service Testimonials in accordance with MSN 1858, section 4.

You will also need a letter from the captain or the management company confirming 'that the candidate has been involved in navigational watchkeeping duties under the supervision of a certificated officer duties for at least 6 months'. Anyone holding a OOW (Yachts, less than 3,000GT) is exempt from having to provide evidence of watchkeeping activities.

Note also, that we are talking about being 'involved in watchkeeping duties' and not about 'watchkeeping service'. The MCA wants to see that you have been involved with some bridge operations and not exclusively been working on deck. 'Watchkeeping service' is only for officers who are in charge of navigational watch and want to move up the career ladder from OOW/Chief Mate to Master.


Service may be performed on vessels of any flag. Candidates who are serving in a dual engine and deck capacity will have their service counted at the rate of 50%.

See also the OOW Unlimited section.


There is no substitute for hard work and pre-study! It is strongly recommended that you read your study guides and from them try to answer the selection of past questions that we supply you. You may find that you need to search the internet to gain additional information before you fully understand the problem. By this means you will arrive at Warsash ‘knowing what you don’t know’, and this will then enable you to focus your studies during the course.


Warsash Maritime Academy is an exam centre for IAMI (International Association of Maritime Institutions) exams. Exam results are usually available within six weeks of sitting the exam and will be communicated by Warsash Maritime Academy. It is recommended that you leave us your address to send you your pass certificate.


All yacht deck modules are valid for three years from the date of issue of the pass certificate. Within a three year period you must pass your oral exam and all three modules, otherwise your modules will expire and you will have to take them again. Gaining your CoC removes this requirement for the modules appertaining to that certificate.


You can re-sit the examination at an approved IAMI examination centre anywhere in the world. They will require you to produce the relevant course completion certificate and pay the IAMI exam fee plus their administration costs.


When you have accrued sufficient sea service to sit an oral examination with the MCA, you are required to apply for an NOE. This form can be downloaded from the MCA website and must be returned with ORIGINAL COPIES all of your supporting documentation (sea service testimonials, STCW certificates, exam pass certificates and ENG1) to prove that you are eligible for an oral examination.


The deck section of the MCA Seafarer Training & Certification department can be reached by email at deck@mcga.gov.uk or by phone on 0044 (0)23 8032 9231 – select option 1 for the deck team.


You can take your documents to the MCA in Southampton and they will take photocopies of the originals. If you are not able to do this, sending by courier or Royal Mail recorded delivery is the next best thing.


A Notice of Eligibility is valid for five years from date of issue, and for three years after a successful oral exam. You must apply for your NOE well in advance of your anticipated exam date as they can take up to six weeks to be processed. For more information on how to apply for an NOE visit the MCA website and look for section titled: Commercial and Private Yachts


Once you have your NOE you can then go ahead and book your oral exam at any of the MCA offices throughout the UK. The MCA office you have chosen will not confirm your booking until you have received your NOE. Be aware that they do have busy periods so it is best to book your oral well in advance to ensure you get your preferred date.

Click here for a list of MCA Marine Offices.


It depends upon how badly you fail. If you didn't come up to the required standard, the examiner will advise you of what you failed on and suggest a suitable strategy. However if you made a fundamental error with respect to safety then a sea time penalty may be imposed. MIN 451 gives further guidance on retaking oral exams.


HELM stands for Human Element, Leadership and Management and was brought in as part of the  Manila Amendments to the STCW Code (also known as STCW2010).

Seafarers must complete the corresponding HELM course for their Certificate of Competency (CoC):

  • OOW (Yachts less than 3,000GT) / Y4 and Y3: HELM(Operational Level)
  • Master and Chief Mate (Yachts less than 3,000GT) / Y2 and Y1: HELM (Management Level)
  • Existing deck and engineer officers revalidating their existing CoC do not have to undertake any additional training, even after 31 December 2016 (“Grandfather principle”).

We have scheduled our courses so they fit the yacht OOW and Master modules as well as yacht engineering Y4 to Y2 modules.

HELM(O) - course details 
HELM(M) - course details

Warsash was the first training provider to achieve approval for both HELM(O) and HELM(M) and was closely involved in establishing the syllabus for these courses.


If you have good GCSE or A-level grades, the most cost and time effective method of getting onto a superyacht is to enrol in the Merchant Navy as an deck officer cadet. You will be paid a wage by a sponsoring company; they will also pay your course fees. At the end of a three year period of study (depending upon starting qualifications) you should be awarded a Merchant Navy Officer of the Watch certificate. This is much quicker than any other route and is a far superior qualification, which has fewer limitations on the size and power of yacht you will be able to work on. It will also speed up your career progression.

Find out more about our superyacht cadetship


Your best way forward is to get practical experience on yachts and learn on the job. Your first step is to get a position on a yacht after having completed the mandatory training for new entrants. Warsash Superyacht Academy is in partnership with yacht recruitment agencies that can assist in this process.


These are elementary engineering courses designed for masters and chief mates who don’t have an engineer on board, and candidates starting their career as an engineer on yachts. They are week-long combined classroom and workshop based courses and will teach you the fundamental skills and knowledge required to start you on your career. It is not a requirement to have completed these courses, but if you are just starting out it shows commitment, willingness to progress and will increase your employability. To be accepted on these courses you have to be over 18 years of age, be in possession of a valid ENG1 and have completed the four basic STCW safety training courses.


You will need to get experience working on board a yacht in in order to gain seatime towards your Y4 Certificate of Competency (CoC). The route that you must follow is well mapped out, however your previous experience and qualifications may give you exemptions from some or all of the Y4 modules. To avoid paying for courses that you do not need you should apply to the MCA for a Letter of Initial Assessment.

See our progression chart for yacht engineers.

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